Kyrie Irving Steals 'King of Cleveland' Crown from LeBron James
On Friday, Irving turned Brandon Knight into Kyrie's own personal shadow puppet. We'll likely forget everything that happened in the Rising Stars game, save for this one moment:
It's a meaningless Rising Stars game, but it was witness to the best handles in hoops. It's close between Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving, but right now, Irving probably has the edge as the NBA's best dribbler.
It's pretty notable to be the best ball handler in basketball, but Kyrie's skills extend far beyond that. Though he's not typically thought of as a sharpshooter, Irving shoots .425 from three-point range on 4.6 attempts per game. Many of those tries come off the dribble, too.
Kyrie announced his presence as a premier shooter by winning the three-point competition on Saturday.
In the actual All-Star game itself, Irving was flashy brilliance. The kid swerved his way to 15 points and dished four assists in a mere 24 minutes of action.
The gap is closing between what Kyrie Irving is and how he's considered in popular sports culture. He may have been the best offensive point guard in the Eastern Conference last season, despite not making an All-Star team.
There is a time lag between performance and recognition and the public may have been hesitant to bestow the lofty "All-Star" tag on a rookie. This year is different. This season, people are starting to recognize that Irving is for real.
Kyrie leads all point guards in scoring average with 23.5 and he has the aforementioned tools to do so with great efficiency. Though not a court vision savant, Irving can be as dominant as Chris Paul, just in a different way.
It starts with Kyrie's live dribble, a handle that goes unbroken when he splits double teams. Though Irving is hardly an elite athlete, he's quick enough to get to the hoop in short bursts after splitting the trap.
From there, Irving has a few tools at his disposable. Irving's Euro step freezes many a defender, and his up-and-under layup is as beautiful as it is effective.
LeBron James is gone from Cleveland and likely never coming back. But the Cavs have rebounded about as well as they could have hoped. Though the roster is a mess, they may well have gotten the best No. 1 pick since King James.
So much depends on whether Cleveland can build talent around their budding superstar, but at the very least, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson show potential. If Irving stays on board and if Dan Gilbert figures out how to surround a superstar with talent in his second shot at this, the Cavs just might have their championship-winning savior. Let's wait for them to make the playoffs first, before getting too wild with the speculation, though.
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